Vincent a true bluegrass girl

By PAULETTE FLOWERS Published:

Musician, singer, producer, studio owner, bandleader, songwriter is there anything Rhonda Vincent can't do? Apparently not, and her new album, "All American Bluegrass Girl," showcases every one of the "hats" she wears.

Rhonda not only produced the album, she also recorded it in her just-opened Nashville recording studio, Adventure Studios. Of course, she led the members of her top-notch band The Rage on the recording and contributed her own fine musical talents. Rhonda, it seems, can play anything that has strings. Her vocal talents have won her six consecutive Female Vocalist of the Year awards from the International Bluegrass Music Association. Rhonda also contributed three songs of her own to the album: the title track, the poetic and moving "God Bless the Soldier," and the sprightly instrumental "Ashes of Mount Augustine."

Rhonda says the opener, "All American Bluegrass Girl," is her own story. "I worked hard on it, to make it real and true," she explains. The patriotism and honesty of the lyrics establish a theme for the album that is reflected most movingly in "God Bless the Soldier."

"I wrote this song after a visit to the nation's largest military base, in Fort Hood, Texas," she recalls. "I was not prepared for the impact that visit would have on my life. We visited a military hospital, where we met with patients who were active-duty soldiers, just back from Iraq. I was amazed at how appreciative they were of our visit. Some were just out of surgery, others on their way to be discharged from the hospital. But all were anxious to see us, and thanked us for taking time to see them. I felt it the other way around."

Other standout tracks include a striking version of the Roy Acuff classic "Precious Jewel," a stunning guest appearance by Dolly Parton on "Heartbreaker's Alibi," and a duet with bluegrass great Bobby Osborne on "Midnight Angel."

Rhonda Vincent has been onstage since age 5, learning her art with her family's band, the Sally Mountain Show. She released her first single, an exhilarating, driving arrangement of "Mule Skinner Blues," at age 8. If anyone can claim the title of "All American Bluegrass Girl," it's Rhonda Vincent. In her new album, she does just that.

QUIBBLES 'N BITS

Catch of the Day Dept.: Hank Williams Jr. took Lee Ann Womack fishing on one of those group charter boats off the Florida Panhandle to get video footage for an upcoming CMT special on Bocephus. Well, apparently Lee Ann hasn't often held a fishing pole that actually had a fish on the line. "It almost pulled me out of the boat two different times," she says. "Ten guys just grabbed me before I went over the side of the boat. I had no idea it would be a force that strong." So what ended up on her stringer? "A snapper and a grouper and one other thing I can't remember the name of." The special, "CMT In the Moment: Hank Williams Jr.," is set to debut June 17.

She Was Country Dept.: Some of country music's biggest stars are making a tribute album to Barbara Mandrell. Of course, the album's title is "She Was Country When Country Wasn't Cool: A Tribute to Barbara Mandrell." Reba McEntire and Kenny Chesney duet on "I Was Country When Country Wasn't Cool"; Brad Paisley is doing "In Times Like These"; Terri Clark does "Sleeping Single in a Double Bed"; Lorrie Morgan turns in "That's What Friends Are For"; Dierks Bentley covers "Fast Lanes and Country Roads"; and there's a duet by Willie Nelson and Shelby Lynne of "This Time I Almost Made It." The album is due out Oct. 10. There is some talk of a companion TV special, but details aren't available yet.

Rough Cuts Quote of the Week: "It's not the end of tank tops." Cyndi Thomson ("What I Really Meant to Say"), on her change of heart about getting completely out of the music business. Three years ago, Cyndi announced she was out, but now she's back in. Cyndi, who was known for her slinky wardrobe, was answering a question about her onstage wardrobe, given the fact that she's now the mother of a 14-month-old.

I'd love to hear from you, so please write me at P.O. Box 121438, Nashville, TN 37212.

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